That Dao-using method was called Overlaid River Torrents. Li Mu had never tried it in a battle before.
The method was what Li Mu evolved out of the Heaven Sword Thirty-six Styles and some other sword methods of the Heaven Sword Sect. Through those days’ observation and contemplation, the Dao-using way that he invented specially for the Dao-commanding technique was fast as thunder and lightning, changeable as dreams, astounding as ghosts, unstoppable as shooting stars. In barely a second, Li Mu had hacked dozens of times.
The momentum of the Dao surged like torrents and stretched far away as it grew progressively stronger.
When he launched the one-hundredth hack, all the power generated by the previous hack seemed to have assembled on the last one.
‘Oh? That’s kind of interesting!’
Zhang Bulao revealed a hint of suppressed derision on his features.
Although he was suspending in midair and had no solid object to support him, he remained as stable as a mountain. The machete in his hand slashed unhurriedly. His movements were smooth and graceful like drifting clouds and flowing water, not showing any trace of savageness. He fended off Li Mu’s strikes one by one with his own smart machete moves and soon blocked a total of one hundred hacks Li Mu launched.
Even the last hack that seemed to carry the most robust momentum was thwarted as if it was no threat.
During the whole time, Zhang Bulao just suspended in the air, motionless as a rock. Even his hair did not get rumpled.
The Samsara Knife soared backward to catch Li Mu, who was falling to the ground.
Li Mu had not reached the Celestial Being Realm, so he could not stay up in the void for long like Zhang Bulao.
‘How could he be so powerful?’
Li Mu thought in trepidation.
The Samsara Knife alone weighed more than five thousand kilograms. When driven by the internal tactical deployment and attached by the power of the previous ninety-nine hacks performed with the Dao-commanding technique, the last hack shall carry at least two hundred and fifty thousand kilograms. If the target were a small hill, it would be hacked into a heap of fragmented stones under that blow. However, Zhang Bulao was floating in midair at that time. Even if his natural qi of the Celestial Being Realm was flawless, he was unlikely to take the impact of that last hack head-on so effortlessly without support under his feet.
It should be noted that the real extraordinary features of the expert in the Celestial Being Realm lay in his Cultivation Method and combat techniques instead of pure strength.
If it was a contest of pure strength, given Li Mu’s physical cultivation, he could topple hills and mountains. Even the opponent was a Celestial Being, he still had a good chance to confront him.
If Zhang Bulao had dodged his one hundred hacks with smart moving techniques and incredible speed, Li Mu might have found his failure more acceptable.
Anyway, the first battle with the Dao-commanding technique turned out to be a fruitless endeavor.
Mounting his Samsara Knife, Li Mu turned into a jet of red light, which then landed on the tip of a solitary stone peak towering aloft about a kilometer away.
Since flying by the Dao-commanding technique kept consuming his internal qi, Li Mu dared not be too confident about his strength and decided not to ride on his Dao for a long time in the battle against the Celestial Being.
After landing on the stone peak, he directly opened his Third Eye to observe the opponent.
Through his Third Eye, Li Mu captured everything that had been invisible to the bare eyes. It turned out that within the radius of a kilometer around Zhang Bulao, the Spiritual Qi had become thick and sticky as if a swamp constituted by air. Some hidden energy currents that Li Mu had never seen before were quietly flowing within the sticky morass of Spiritual Qi in a grid pattern.
‘The trick definitely lies in those hidden energy currents.’
With a glance, Li Mu already figured out the funny part.
The swamp of Spiritual Qi was, in fact, the substantialized form of the internal qi protective zone perceived by the Third Eye. Any martial arts practitioners could turn on the internal qi protective zone, including those in the Master Realm. But compared with those in the Celestial Being Realm, the experts in lower realms could only cast a smaller protective zone with weaker and thinner Spiritual Qi.
Thus, the secret that enabled Celestial Beings to outshine numerous other practitioners must be in the grid-patterned hidden energy currents.
‘What on earth is it then?’
Li Mu’s mind raced, but his hand did not stop wielding his weapon.
Compelled by his spiritual force, the Samsara Knife dashed out again. The Dao-using method, Overlaid River Torrents, was staged frantically for a second time, but it was swifter, steadier, more unpredictable and more ferocious than the last time. Soon, scarlet Dao qi burst out and crumbled the void.
“Your Dao-commanding skill is not bad, but your cultivation is too low. It’ll be the same, even if you try once more.”
With the intent of entirely devastating Li Mu on the emotional level, Zhang Bulao adopted the same defensive strategy. The deadly scarlet machete in his hand still struck leisurely. No matter how strong the Dao momentum of the Samsara Knife was or how fast and cunning the moves were, Li Mu’s attack could not break through his machete shield at all.
For Zhang Bulao, it was a simple defense.
Or else, it was actually a game for fun.
‘Surely it’s all about those hidden energy currents…’
Since nothing could escape his Third Eye, Li Mu saw it clearly that the enormous weight that the Samsara Knife’s every blow carried, though looked like being offset by the deadly scarlet machete, was dissipated into the grid of hidden energy currents.
Like a broad vine deeply rooted in the soil, that mysterious grid gave steadfast support to Zhang Bulao. Powerful as the Dao momentums of the Samsara Knife were, they were all dissolved into the widely spread vine. That way, how could any of Li Mu’s attacks tip Zhang Bulao off?
And that was not all those hidden energy currents could do.
They provided Zhang Bulao with energy currents. All the Spiritual Qi within the radius of several kilometers seemed to have been drawn and at his disposal.
‘This is the so-called extracting the power of heaven and earth?’
Li Mu soon came to understand the weird phenomenon.
The reason that those in the Celestial Being Realm were almost invincible was the ability to extract the power of heaven and earth and then turn it into their combat strength. As heaven and earth were so vast that all creatures lived in the space between them, even a bit of their power could shatter mountains and dry the sea. Thus, who could contend with that power?
However, Li Mu had only heard from other people about that concept. As to how to extract the power of heaven and earth, no one could give a detailed account.
Well, the secrets of the Celestial Being Realm needed to be unraveled by the practitioners themselves.
But since no one in this world had a Third Eye that could penetrate everything like Li Mu’s, they naturally could not perceive such vivid substantialized form of the power flow in the Celestial Being Realm.
‘The power of heaven and earth is the power of the Great Way.’
‘Or to put it in other words, it’s the power of rules, of principles.’
‘Though it may be addressed in different ways, it is the same kind of power after all.’
For Li Mu, the sight of the power flow on Zhang Bulao was his biggest gain.
He did not challenge the Red-hair Killing God into that battle to kill himself. Instead, he wanted to repeat his defensive moves to explore the wonders of the Celestial Being Realm just like what he did when dueling with the Heaven-Sword Celestial Being. Although his cultivation only allowed him to turn 30 percent of his internal qi into the natural qi by then, he was still on the medium level of the Natural Realm, and it was kind of unrealistic for him to jump into the Celestial Being Realm. Nevertheless, once he peeped at the secrets of the Celestial Being, it was indisputable that the new enlightenment would benefit his practice in the Natural Realm a lot.
Therefore, what Li Mu wanted then was to learn from Zhang Bulao more secrets about cultivation, to gain more combat experience, and… to survive that battle.
“Who are you?” demanded He Yunsiang.
He was both anxious and irritated.
In the beginning, he hoped to gain the upper hand by acting first. He planned to capture Lei Yinyin and then humiliate Dean Qu and the rest. However, a sorceress, who was unbelievably beautiful and had stunning magic, suddenly revealed herself when he made a move and was about to beat all those from the Fengming Academy. Meanwhile, she defeated three martial experts of the Qing Sha Clan in a row. What was more, when He Yunxiang came forward to handle her in person, he was knocked off and forced to retreat while spilling blood from his mouth…
“Young Master asked me to protect those from the Fengming Academy.”
The woman with stunning beauty looked otherworldly gorgeous, not tainted by any dust in this world. Like an immortal free from the mundane, she was wrapped around dim fluorescent light as if her body was glowing. Such a holy look made the others not dare to look her in the eye. Even He Yunxiang, who fancied himself a dignified gentleman, had a sense of inferiority in front of that woman.
There was a stream of natural Taoist Sense circulating inside her.
Six jade seals were floating around her, and under her feet hovered six other jade seals that rotated in midair. Moreover, there was a criss-cross network of silver lines at the woman’s feet shimmering against the seal deployment. It contracted and glinted at irregular intervals, which looked extremely bizarre.
All that led to one conclusion—she was a potent sorceress.
A disciple of the Hanshan Academy with an alarmed look hastily whispered something in He Yunxiang’s ear.
In great astonishment, He Yunxiang uttered, “You are… the Top Beauty in Chang’an named Hua Xiangrong?”
He had heard the name Hua Xiangrong when he arrived in Chang’an. People said that night in a pool of moonlight she danced like a fairy maiden. That song When Would the Moon Appear that accompanied her dance was also spread across the world, further rendering Hua Xiangrong a fairy from another world. Nonetheless, in the eyes of He Yunxiang, no matter how stunning she looked, she was merely a Top Beauty in the prostitutes’ quarter, helplessly gaudy and flashy. So, how could such a woman be comparable to those real martial celebrities, heroines, and goddess?
However, at that moment, He Yunxiang realized he was wrong.
‘How come there is such a drop-dead gorgeous woman in the world?’
“Humph, you are just a prostitute. How dare you act so wildly right at the gate of our Hanshan Academy?” Tie Zhan, the president of Hanshan Academy, suddenly cut in. His eyes were reflecting unconcealed despise. “I don’t believe you did let go of your old job after you hooked up with Li Mu, did you? Get out of our way now!”
He was still holding on to his existing superiority.
Renowned scholars like him always had a sense of superiority before the prostitutes.
Hua Xiangrong, however, looked quite unflustered and free of emotion. She did not say one more word but continued operating the peculiar magic deployment to safeguard the crowd from the Hanshan Academy while monitoring the surroundings through her pure spiritual force.
It was the first time that she made a real strike since she started practicing with Li Mu. Naturally, she felt quite uneasy about the task. But when Li Mu’s words occurred to her, she managed to concentrate again.
That aloof and serene face made her look more like a fairy that had forsaken the world of cares.
He Yunxiang’s eyes were full of amazement and envy.
All of a sudden, he was profoundly jealous of Li Mu.
‘What did that guy do to deserve the company of such unparalleled beauty?’
‘And this beauty is not just for display. She is indeed a whiz in magic. Judging by her aura and glory, perhaps her magic cultivation has already reached the Natural Realm, hasn’t it?’
He Yunxiang immediately gave up on striking against her.
Because the result of the fight was quite conclusive based on the previous try—he was not an equal of that woman. Adding that his internal qi was in disorder as he was injured by Li Mu, at that time his natural qi was as thin as gossamer and his strength was less than one-tenth of the normal. So, if he attacked, then, he would disgrace himself.
However, someone else decided to make a move.
And it seemed that he had harbored that idea for a long time.
“Haw-haw, you are truly a natural wonder-woman. In such a short span that you spent with Li Mu, you’ve already gained such high-classed magic cultivation. Well, wow, you’re still a maiden. Li Mu does have strong self-discipline… Anyway, Hua Xiangrong, you will still be mine.”
A blood-red ray of light raced towards the gate of the Hanshan Academy from the opposite street.
The indescribably pungent smell of blood permeated the place. Suddenly, the sky was overcast by a thin layer of dark cloud. The blood-red glow bathed the whole block. And that exceedingly eerie figured in blood-red slid speedily and covered several kilometers in a second.
Against common sense, a blood-red crescent emerged from the dark cloud spookily.
The blood-red figure leaped up and neatly landed on that blood-red crescent, overlooking the earth from the sky.
“Blood-red crescent shines over the landscape, dyeing everything in the same shade. Demonic Sects might be innumerous, but under the moon, I am the king!”
As that figure slowly uttered those words, a puff of vicious qi began to diffuse in the air.